About this piece:
This book combs through observations from various people’s lives (anonymous to protect privacy), and pairs these stories with quotations from books and media that I have read or consumed for almost 15 years. These quotes are included in the spirit of commonplace books, and reflect my lifelong practices (and/or obsession) with compiling inspiration, organization, and filing.
A mostly silent but omnipresent narrative accompanies the text through drawings and objects. Aside from obvious illustration, they mimic an instruction manual on how to create and sew paper garment, which appears at the end of the book. This dress is constructed from discarded prints that accumulated in the making of the book. These tip-ins balance the tension and anxiety of the stories; these sewing scraps attempt to be neutral, a safe location for the reader to place their own biographies.
A year or two prior to finally constructing this book, I saw an auction image of a book with a real dress sewn into it, folded to fit within the pages, with instructions on the verso with smaller examples of sewing. I was captivated by this very simple way that I could finally synthesize my previously distinct work of making paper dresses and making paper books. Of course, I wasn’t going to write a manual for sewing because I taught myself how to make paper clothes as artwork, not actual clothing to wear, but I was drawn to the idea of instructions (perhaps because so many people ask me for ‘how-to’ books without understanding how incredibly difficult they are to make—but a pretend instructional manual would be much more fun, and probably even more instructive!).
Since grad school, I figured out a system of taking notes during and after reading books, to help me hold onto the most compelling quotes. This has also been instrumental to my research, so it has served me well. For this book, I went through almost all of my files to pull the right quotes for the array of stories I wanted to highlight. It felt exactly the same as making and compiling all of the physical materials I needed to tip in: bits of thread, ribbon, tape, paper, and so on.
As always, the specific becomes the universal, and what we think is so peculiar in our lives is replicated around the world countless times. We feel so apart from others and anxious, and this book was a way for me to reconcile some of those feelings. It is also a wonderful way for me to combine so many things that I love to do: make paper, make books, make dresses, write, and draw. The edition is varied because so much of the work is done by hand using what I had in inventory; this includes the paper for the pages, which will vary throughout the edition.
ink, paper, natural dye, beeswax, ribbon, fabric, thread
About the artist:
Aimee Lee is an artist, papermaker, writer, and the leading hanji researcher and practitioner in North America (BA, Oberlin College; MFA, Columbia College Chicago). Her Fulbright research on Korean paper led to her award-winning book, Hanji Unfurled: One Journey into Korean Papermaking, and the first US hanji studio at Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, OH; she continues to create and consult on new hanji studios across the U.S.
She has exhibited at the Fuller Craft Museum, Islip Art Museum, and Museum of Nebraska Art, and in worldwide venues. Her artists’ books reside in numerous library collections and her teaching engagements reach from coast to coast and internationally.